Northwest Trek's four-legged attractions include free-roam deer. (Jim Bryant/Dispatch file photo)
Northwest Trek's four-legged attractions include free-roam deer. (Jim Bryant/Dispatch file photo)
Seven million is close to the population of Washington, more than 10 times the population of Seattle, and about seven times the number of “12s” at last year’s Seattle Seahawks football games.
And it’s the latest milestone in total attendance at Northwest Trek since the wildlife park opened in 1975.
Visitor number 7 million walked through Trek’s gate March 18 in the person of Lacey Wellbor. She arrived that afternoon with her husband, Kent, and their children, Lindsay and Robert.
“We’re thrilled that so many people are excited to spend the day in nature, learn about native Northwest species, and experience this very special place,” said Donn Powell, interim deputy director of the attraction near Eatonville.
Powell said the park’s “natural setting, up-close animal experiences and conservation stories resonate with people from throughout Washington and around the world.”  
That’s been happening in increasing numbers of visitors in recent years. Northwest Trek hit the 6 million mark in total attendance in 2012, and in 2016 logged a record one-year attendance of just over 250,000.
Trek officials attributed last year’s mark to the opening of Kids Trek, a nature-inspired playground that opened last spring in April. It was built for $1.9 million, paid for with donations via the Northwest Trek Foundation, companies, individuals, grants and part of a bond measure approved by voters in the Metropolitan Parks District, which operates Northwest Trek.
Officials said the births of several animals, including a moose calf, also were a draw for last year’s crowds that topped the previous single-year attendance record of 214,696, set in 2015.
More baby animals are expected to be born this spring, officials said.
Open seven days a week, Northwest Trek is home to native Northwest wildlife such as wolves, foxes, bobcats, Canada lynx, coyotes, beavers, fishers, river otters and owls in natural exhibits. Visitors can take a 50-minute narrated tour of the 435-acre free-roaming area that’s inhabited by herds of American bison and Roosevelt elk, plus bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer and moose.